Commanders deep dive: Assessing the new coaching staff under Dan Quinn

How is the new Commanders coaching staff shaping up?
Ken Norton Jr.
Ken Norton Jr. / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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Tom Donatell - Commanders DBs coach

  • Previous job: Defensive passing game coordinator and defensive backs coach, LA Chargers
  • Replacing: Christian Garcia (interim) and Richard Rodgers

The son of veteran defensive coach Ed Donatell, Tom has been coaching under Brandon Staley for the past three seasons. Before that, he worked under new Washington Commanders linebackers coach Ken Norton, Jr, when he was Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator.

Green flag: Donatell has pedigree, having coached under several excellent defensive minds during his brief career. During his years as an assistant in Los Angeles, his defensive backs performed rather well.

Red flag: When he took over the pass defense in 2023, the unit took a step backward. It was generally a snakebit season for the entire franchise, but Donatell did little to inspire confidence. Hopefully, working with Jason Simmons will allow him to focus a little more.

John Pagano - Commanders defensive assistant

  • Previous position: Outside linebackers coach, Denver Broncos (2021)

John Pagano has more than 35 years of coaching experience, mostly at the professional level. He has served as defensive coordinator for both the Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders.

Green flag: Pagano brings abundant experience to the defensive coaching staff and should be able to help out wherever needed.

Red flag: Pagano was out of coaching last year. That may mean nothing. Or it may mean that after more than three decades in the trenches, he was feeling burned out.

Ryan Kerrigan - Commanders Asst LBs coach/pass-rush specialist

  • Previous job: Assistant defensive line coach, Washington Commanders
  • Replacing: Vincent Rivera

Ryan Kerrigan is the third holdover from the 2023 staff. He will have a slightly different set of responsibilities. As the franchise’s second-greatest sack-master, he would seem to be ideally suited to take on the role of pass rush specialist.

Green flag: This is an extremely popular hire, among players and fans alike.

Red flag: The Commanders already have a defensive line coach and an assistant defensive line coach. I’m not sure how the responsibilities are to be divided.